There is a story in the Bible about a woman who was caught in adultery and publicly shamed by everyone in her community. Could you imagine…. Your sin exposed… for all to see? Your marital troubles laid out before the courts, before your neighbors, your children’s friends, the women you drink coffee with, your church leaders?
In John 8, it says this woman was brought before the entire city, for all the people to see. I envision her being brought before a city circle, surrounded, with the circle becoming smaller and smaller with every second that passes. Her sin called out, the only sound she hears is the condemnation yelled at her. “You are this; you are that…” with stones in their hands and their fists raised her way, the payment of her sin—a public stoning. Then, Jesus comes toward her, and before the crowd of people, He says, “Let anyone who is without sin cast the first stone against this woman…” and not a single person was able to cast a stone. Not a single person in the city was without sin. All of her condemners dispersed until it was only Jesus standing with her in the middle of the City circle. “Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.” (John 8:6-11).
Jesus has every opportunity in this moment to call her out on her sin and condemn her, yet He doesn’t. I may even go as far as to say Jesus was less concerned with her sin and more concerned with her encountering true freedom and true love. Not one of her condemners told this woman something about herself she didn’t already know. She knew she sinned. She knew she dishonored her husband. She knew she was wrong. She felt the weight of her shame. She knew what was wrong with her. She didn’t know what was right with her. She didn’t know she was worthy of grace. She didn’t know she was worthy of forgiveness. She didn’t know she was worthy of love.
If I could encapsulate my life’s motto in one sentence it would be this: People know what is wrong with them – They need to know what is right with them.
Every week I conduct outreach to men and women entangled in street prostitution, the second most common form of sex trafficking. I will forever remember meeting the woman from John chapter 8. Walking to the window of our car on outreach one night, she told me not to hold her hand because she was filthy. In that moment, it was so much deeper than her physical cleanliness. She truly felt unworthy of being touched. I immediately unbuckled my seatbelt and proceeded to get out of the car and wrap my arms around this sweet woman. I told her how beautiful she was, how valuable she was, how adored she was, how she was a daughter of the most high God…. and she wept. It wasn’t condemnation that brought her to a place of recognizing her need for Jesus… it was love. It is always love. Love always wins.
I’ve seen Jesus do exactly what He did in John chapter 8 many times. I’ve seen women get set free and healed. Not through condemnation, but through love. When I look these women in the eyes and hold their hands I could care less about their sin, that is not for me to judge. Jesus continually teaches me the currency of Heaven is love. He can love us more in a moment than other lovers could in a lifetime. His love rights all her wrongs. All it takes is one encounter. One encounter where people recognize what is right with them, not what is wrong. And it rights all of our wrongs as well.
Lindsey Fischer founded All Worthy of Love (AWOL), a non-profit organization that reaches to those enslaved by prostitution through local weekly outreach. Her desire is to facilitate a platform that activates others to live out what God has called them to do, reach the least of these. Lindsey passionately speaks across the United States as an advocate for the 27 million enslaved educating others and empowering them to join God in His work to set the captives free. Lindsey currently serves on the Citizens Advisory Board of Human Trafficking for the State of Michigan and has testified before the Michigan Senate to influence new laws and better protect victims of trafficking. Through AWOL, she has seen the Kingdom of God forcefully advance and broken dwellings restored. She believes that the Church is God’s answer to injustice and that today is the day for a great exodus. Lindsey loves to laugh and believes there is no such thing as too much joy!